Three Waters Reform

The Government’s Three Waters Reform is about changing how New Zealand’s stormwater, drinking water and wastewater services are delivered.

Currently services sit in the hands of our 67 councils. The responsibility for water services will shift from the 67 individual councils to 10 new Water Services Entities. Entities that can borrow enough to fund New Zealand’s water infrastructure upgrades, both now and in the future. Water assets will remain publicly owned by councils, who play a key role in the entities’ governance and priority-setting processes. 

Why is reform needed?

Significantly more investment is needed in our water services delivery and infrastructure over the next 30 years – this is something everyone agrees on, no matter what they think of the Government’s reform proposals.  

An effective three waters system is critical for the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders. We all deserve safe, clean drinking water – and resilient stormwater and wastewater services that enable communities to prosper and grow while protecting the environment.

What does it mean for Horowhenua District Council?

We will no longer deliver 3 Waters (3Ws) Services to our community, this will be the role of the new entities. As part of the transition, our Council will transfer all 3Ws assets (plant, buildings, land, pipes etc), debt and income associated with the 3Ws, and staff to the new entity. Council employees who primarily work in water services will be guaranteed a role with the new Water Services Entities on the same terms as their existing role.

The new entity is set to deliver 3 Waters Services to our community from 1 October 2025.

What entity is Horowhenua part of?

Horowhenua will form part of the Manawatū / Whanganui Entity, Entity E.

For more information, please visit the Water Services Reform Programme website. This is the central hub for information on the reform and transition. It also aims to facilitate engagement by Councils and other stakeholders with Water Services Reform transition activity.

What does the October 2023 general election result mean for the Three Waters Reform process?

At this point in time, the reform process that was set up by the Labour led government remains the reform that councils across New Zealand are currently working towards. Once the incoming government is in place, it is anticipated that the government will make an announcement about their intended approach to the Three Waters Reform.

The incoming administration has made it clear that they would like to progress and complete some of their major policy changes in the first 100 days of their term (through to February 2024), and further changes to water services reform are expected to be included in this timetable. 

It is unclear what the specific changes to the Three Waters Reform might look like. While it is anticipated that the Water Services Reform programme will be a key focus of the new Government and its Ministers, it is likely to take some time to confirm details of their agenda and work programme.  

In light of the above, the National Transition Unit have been reviewing and adjusting the current work programmes, identifying packages of work that can continue in line with statutory obligations under the Water Services Entities Act, and where appropriate, pausing other aspects of their work until there has been further direction from the new Minister. For now, Horowhenua District Council like all other councils, is waiting patiently to understand what the announcement may mean for the current reform process and the district’s three waters.  Council will continue to update our community as more information becomes available.